drink recipes & mixing instructions

Rum

Although the creation of rum dates back to the ancient times when Marco Polo gave an account of being offered "good wine made of sugar" in Persia in the 14th century; we most commonly associate the development of rum with the Caribbean sugar industry boom of the 17th century.

In the heat of the tropical West Indies, sugar production was in full swing, leave gallons of the liquid "waste" behind as a result from processing sugar cane. We now know this waste as molasses, but until the liquid was fermented by plantation slaves, it was regarded as largely useless. When the fermentation of molasses began to increase, impurities were removed and the first rums were introduced. The earliest documentation of rum's production in the Caribbean has been attributed to Barbados in a 1651, in a report describing the drink as a fiery liquid made from sugar, called Rumbullion. This word is a derivative of the 17th century English word meaning "a great tumult and uproar." The early forms of rum were described as a "hellish liquor that could kill the devil himself" that was a much more rough version than the smooth drink we enjoy today. Later records mark rum production in Brazil during the 1620's, amongst other reports of the Spanish distilling rum in Puerto Rico and Cuba.

As the quality of rum improved, its popularity increased, and eventually rum production began in Colonial America. Distilleries began popping up all over New England, and for a time rum was even accepted as currency in some parts of Rhode Island. Sadly, rum was also used in the exchange and purchases during the slave trade, around the time of the Sugar Act (1764, which contributed to the American Revolution). In the decades that followed, rum's popularity continued to grow, and was often brought in as a celebratory drink for politicians in presidential campaigns.

Legend: Piracy and Rum

Rum is often associated as the preferred libation of pirates in the West Indies. However the iconic song we associate with the knaves was composed by author Robert Louis Stevenson, who was Scottish and never himself traveled to the Caribbean. His book Treasure Island, published in (1883) contained the ditty "Fifteen men on the dead man's chest, Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum," was written too late to ever have been sung by pirates. However, being that rum production was prolific in the Caribbean, and that pirates enjoyed pillaging the bounty of the islands, and loved a drop or two; imagination doesn't leap too far to associate pirates and rum.

Rum Composition, Content & Method of Production

Most rum contains about 40-50% alcohol content, and is a drink made of fermented sugar cane juice, cane syrup or molasses. Rum usually undergoes an aging process, the most flavorful of which comes from being aged in oak barrels. The rum interacts with the wooden barrels and gains some color and flavor. For example, Jamaican rum (Appleton) is aged in empty Jack Daniels (whiskey) barrels for flavor. Aging and flavor depends on the size of the barrel the rum is aged in (small barrels with fresh wood will age differently and more potently in some cases than larger used barrels would accomplish). The color of rum can range from pale, to golden, amber, to deep reddish. Rums that have had a higher level of filtering will appear much clearer, than rums aged for longer periods of time in dark wood, or from added caramel or molasses.

Culinary Uses

Rum has long been a favorite element to add to many dishes, whether it be through flavoring cookies and cakes, soaking in candied fruits, giving sweet sauces to meats and bbq dishes, adding a flavor to chocolates, ice cream and jams; rum has had a prominent presence in many kinds of plates. Because of its sweetness, rum most often appears in desserts from chocolate rum fondue to rum flavored fruit cake or daiquiri ice cream. This drink also finds its way into main dishes like garlic and rum roasted pork, rum battered seafood, or sweet and spicy rum bbq sauce; there are countless ways to use rum when cooking.

Types of Rum

Rum is aged and filtered differently depending on the company and product, meaning the genre and variations of rum are seemingly limitless.

  • White or Clear Rums: They are commonly used to mix popular cocktails such as Pina Coladas, Mojitos, and Daiquiris. Popular choices include Bacardi, Don Q Crystal, 10 Cane, etc.
  • Gold and Amber Colored Rums: These rums generally acquire their shade from hues of the wooden barrels in which they are aged, and often have soft hints of vanilla, almond, caramel and coconut. These are often consumed straight with ice, mixed into cocktails, used in cooking recipes, and by and large are more affordable than older, darker rums. Popular options include Maui Gold Rum, Appleton Special, El Dorado 5, Goslings Gold, and Pyrat Pistol, etc.
  • Dark Rum: It is matured in wooden barrels for several years at a time, and takes on mahogany or coppery hue. Good examples of dark rums are: Cruzan Estate Dark, Bacardi Select, Flor de Cana 5 Black Label, Angostura 1919, Mount Gay Eclipse, etc.
  • Black Rum: Though these are not always a strictly black shade, "black rum" refers to the darkest and richest kind of rum in production, which are heavily flavored with caramel or molasses. The barrels that mature black rums are heavily fired or charred, and add strong flavor. Black rum options are often made in Bermuda, Jamaica and the Virgin Islands. Black rums include: Coruba, Cruzan Black Strap, Maui Dark Rum (which is a black hue), Woods 100, etc.
  • Vintage & Premium Aged Rum: Both of these are aged for a specific longer amount of time, or are bottled during specific years, and are known for the area and the season they come from.
  • Flavored and Spiced Rum: Almost too many to count, rum has long been marketed with additional flavors added. This might include cream rums, ginger root rum, cinnamon and allspice rum, or rum with fruit or berry extract. So long as the alcohol proof does not fall below the legal requirement, the drink is still rum if it remains above 40%. Gunpowder rum is unique blend of sulfurous flavor mixed with the sweet Caribbean molasses notes. It tastes like something from a piratical past, and has a very distinct taste. Some of the most popular flavored rum brands are: Malibu Coconut Rum, Castries Peanut Rum Cream, Bacardi Limon and Dragonberry, Cruzan Mango and Coconut, Don Q Passion, Chairman's Spiced Rum, and Crisma Rum Cream, etc.
  • Naval Rum, Grog & Bumbo: The British Navy provided a daily ration of rum for its sailors since the 17th century, when the British first captured Jamaica. Since the incessant tropical heat spoiled most grape based alcoholic beverages such as wine, and brandy, the rum apparently improved with it. By the mid 1700's, rum was more frequently watered down, and mixed with lime to prevent scurvy amongst the sails during the long weeks of voyaging. As story goes, Admiral Edward Vernon was famed for creating this rum hybrid, and as he was known for wearing a grogham coat, the drink was referred to as "grog." British Navy soldiers continued to receive a daily ration of rum until 1970. Bumbo refers to a mix of water, rum, sugar, and nutmeg, and was popular during the 18th-19th century mostly because it was more flavorful than the typical Naval Rum/Grog mixture.

Famous rum combinations and cocktails

Rum Punch (famous drink in the Caribbean, with several kinds of alcohol), Dacquiri (lime juice, rum and simple syrup), Mojito (rum, mint, lime, sugar, soda water, etc.), Hot Buttered Rum, Pina Colada, Hurricanes, Cable Car, Dark and Stormy, Jean Harlow, Capirinha, etc.

For the Connoisseur

Some examples of delicious rums include: El Dorado's Special Reserve 15 Year old Rum, $40 a bottle and tasting of raisin and caramel. For higher-end samples, Goslings Old Rum is an honey and oaky flavored drink priced at $75 a bottle. Mount Gay 1703 Cask Select Rum (aged about 30 years) savors of banana, toffee, and oaky flavors, selling for $95. The most expensive rum for sale currently is the Legacy by Angostura, which is priced at $25,000 per bottle. However, in a recent auction, an ancient rum case dated back to 1780 from Barbados, was sold for the highest price on record at: $128,000.